Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Plants for Bees

Last week George and I went to see a movie called Queen of the Sun.  The movie is about the recent population decline of bees.  Many bees around the world have been suffering from colony collapse disorder and scientists are struggling to understand the causes.  Some suggest a combination of factors might be causing the collapse of many colonies including mites, disease (often spread by commercial bees), pesticides, and habitat loss due to large monocultures.

You might ask, "But how does this affect me?"  Did you know that 4 of 10 bites of food you eat were pollinated by bees?  It does not bode well for us if the bees die.  As Einstein put it, "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live....No more bees, no more pollination, more men!"

I almost didn't want to see the movie because sometimes I feel overwhelmed by these kinds of movies.  I have a tendency to want to bury my head in the sand and hope that it goes away.  But the movie had a message of hope and I highly suggest you see it if you get the chance.

"But what can we do to help?"  you might be thinking.  Well, if you are interesting in bee-keeping I encourage you to look into it.  There are many resources available for those interested in raising both honeybees and native bees.  For those of us who aren't quite ready for that I suggest planting plants in your yard that are good nectar or pollen sources for bees.  I came up with the list below as a starter (the list is not exhaustive!).  This list includes plants that are good for bees and native to Ohio (except for Mahonia which is native to the northwest). 

Native Ohio Plants Beneficial to Bees
American Basswood - Tilia americana
American Elderberry - Sambucus canadensis
Beard-tongue - Penstemon
Beebalm - Monarda
Black Huckleberry - Gaylussacia baccata
Black Locust - Robinia pseudoacacia
Black-eyed Susan - Rudbeckia hirta
Bladdernut - Staphylea trifolia
Blazing Star - Liatris
Blue Wild Indigo - Baptisia australis
Butterfly Weed - Asclepias
Crabapple - Malus
Cup Plant - Silphium
Giant Hyssop - Agastache
Goldenrod - Solidago
Honeylocust -  Gleditsia tracantus
Ironweed - Veronia altissima
Joe-pye weed - Eupatorium
Lobelia - Lobelia
Lupine - Lupine perennis
Milkweed - Asclepias
New England Aster - Aster novae-angliae
New Jersey Tea - Ceanothus americanus
Obedient Plant - Physostegia
Oregon grape (native to northwest) - Mahonia aquifolium
Purple coneflower - Echinacea
Rattlesnake Master - Eryngium
Redbud - Cercis canadensis
Rhododendron - Rhododendron
Sage - Salvia lyrata
Spiderwort - Trandescantia
Steeplebush - Spiraea tomentosa
Stonecrop - Sedum
Sunflower - Helianthus
Tulip Tree - Liriodendron tulipifera
Willow - Salix

If you don't live in Ohio I suggest googling native plants to your area.  The following websites are great resources:


Jillsy Girl said...

I just planted two blue salvia plants a couple of weeks ago and I can't go outside without seeing a bee buzzing around each one and sipping away! But, I always have a few plants each summer that attracts them.

Did you ever see the children's animated film "Bee Movie"? It portrays, in a lighthearted fashion, what occurs when pollination ends. It is quite devastating!

Nessy said...

No, I will have to check out that movie. Yesterday I tried to take some photos of the bees on my crabapple and it is really hard. They don't stay still very long! Might try again later today.